The Freshman Project

FP

 

A couple of years ago I did a five post series called, College, Ready or Not?, that focused on finances, making friends, going Greek, stress management, and the importance of listening to your instincts in the collegiate environment. This was great foreshadowing for the opportunity I had to contribute to The Freshman Project: A Collection of Practical and Clever Advice About The College Experience. This book is for college students diving into their first-year of college AND for those people in their life who serve as their advocates, allies, mentors, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, and champions.

After serving as a Student Affairs staff member on the campuses of Duke University and Vanderbilt University for the past 9 years, I know that parents/guardians always want to know, “How do I prepare my student for college?” This book can help you answer that question with pages of expert knowledge that help you have the conversations that matter most with your student.

Gift this book to a student and they can spend some time preparing for their next incredible chapter.

Topics include:

  • Survive Failure
  • Build Healthy Love Relationships
  • Pick a Major
  • Be a Beginner
  • Navigate Depression and Anxiety
  • Discover Leadership Opportunities
  • Honor the Differences
  • Sleep Smart
  • Consider Fraternity/Sorority Life

All of these topics are critical for an incoming college student to discuss with a caring individual in their life AND there are still many more topics in the book. Providing them with this information will provide a strong foundation that will help support them as they navigate their first-year of college.

I’m honored to have a chapter in the book “Discover Leadership Opportunities”. Erin Fischer of The Leadership and Training Studio put together an all-star roster of expert contributors who give you top notch nuggets of wisdom.

If you’re a student or a supporter of a student and you want  deeper insight into the collegiate experience while adding some tools to your toolbox to help you both be successful, then this book is for you.

Want a copy? I’d love to send you some purchase information.

Want to develop a program around the first-year college experience?

Email me at krystalnclark@gmail.com so that I can send you purchase information and we can begin planning something positive for you community.

 

Want to read my series, College, Ready or Not?

Part 1

Come Back to Calm

Inconvenient Friends

Go With Your Gut

Money, Too Much and Never Enough

The Greek Thing

 

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

 

What?! An Extra 24? Hey Februrary.

Feb 1

 

This post is the definition of late. We are 9 days into Black History Month and this post should have been delivered 4 days ago. I just realized that there could be layers to this statement but there’s enough commentary (too much) circulating about blackness after a certain superstar decided to stray from her nonthreatening lyrical roots and get more in touch with her actual roots. As I commented to a friend this morning, “don’t let anyone interrupt your slaying time.” Therefore, I SLAY! Today’s post is about the slayage that has already and will continue to take place in the month of February.

It’s a leap year, y’all! We get that extra 24 hours. I’ve scheduled a nap. How about you?

Oh, and I don’t do Valentine’s Day. I’m not even going to act like I have some higher intellectual view towards the holiday. I’m not in love and I haven’t had an actual Valentine’s Day since I was in college therefore, I’m jealous and it makes me sad. So there! Get out of my face with all of your pink and red shit. Yes, I know, I’m going to spend the day engaged in loving myself and the Lord. Yeah, I got it. 

February Happenings

  1. Launch of The Leadership Studio/ Communication Studio Session
  2. S.A.I.L Success Session
  3. Steve’s Birthday!
  4. JLN Masquerade
  5. NEL Opening Mixer
  6. JLN Board Meeting
  7. Super Bowl
  8. First PREVAIL Planning Team Meeting
  9. NEL Facilitator Training
  10. JLN In Home Meeting
  11. JLN 8th Signing at MCJCH
  12. InTune Alpha Chi Omega @ UGA
  13. Brene Brown & Valentine’s Day
  14. Nashville Emerging Leaders
  15. MOTOWN @ TPAC
  16. Relationships Session on Commons
  17. Dare 2 Be @ Crosspoint
  18. Mavenly + Co visit
  19. Tamara’s Goodbye Brunch
  20. IMPACT @ American University
  21. First draft due of book chapter

Feb 2

February Hopes

  1. Submit NELA Application on 2/15
  2. Continue BossyPants and Leadership Instablog research
  3. 3 posts to PeculiarPearl
  4. Complete S.A.I.L Session 2- Authenticity
  5. Send out Doodle for next if:gathering in March
  6. Complete NLC Homework
  7. Finalize plans for EVOLVE
  8. Begin planning for EVOLVE
  9. Start planning for TEDxVanderbiltUniversity 2016!
  10. Beyoncé Tickets!!! Prayers, please!
  11. Set up meetings with at least 2 past JLN Presidents
  12. Set up a dentist appointment
  13. Finalize 33rd Birthday Trip
  14. Pray for an open heart and mind when it comes to this season of my life. Pray that the Lord will give me the strength to embrace it and not let it lead me to lose my faith or hope in His promises. To constantly seek to be intentionally full of light, love, and laughter.
  15. Sweat at least 30 minutes each day (my fitness motivation is not in a good place)
  16. Leave at least 1 blank night a week
  17. Be in bed by midnight
  18. Buy less stuff (2 sweaters from LOFT, new Spanx, mani and pedi for Masquerade)

Now, it’s time to work. 20 days and counting, my friends.

I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ’til I own it… (Beyoncé, Formation)

I’ve updated my January Happenings & Hopes post in case you’d like to see my success rate.

What about you? What’s happening for you during the month of love?

Krystal “I strongly dislike those chalky candy hearts” Clark

 

 

 

S.A.I.L Away With Me

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

SAIL Pic 2

My personal mission statement is to inspire and equip others to thrive. I have a great passion for doing so with women, especially young professional women. For a long time, I’ve had a dream of creating a women’s leadership development program and was able to be the driving force in creating and implementing PREVAIL Women’s Leadership Conference at Vanderbilt University for undergraduate and graduate students who identify as women. After the success of PREVAIL, my heart was even more motivated to create something special for women in Nashville. A place where women can connect, learn, be vulnerable, dream, create, love, and communicate what they hope for, need, pray for, and just want in this world for their personal and professional lives.

One of my Strengths is Input which means that I collect lots of resources and love sharing them with other people. I cringe when people haven’t been exposed to tools that could help lead them in a different and/or better direction. Besides just posting these items on social media, I want to be able to actually engage women as they dive into various frameworks, theories, and schools of thought. I’m a connector of people and a connector of people to resources.

This is  the origin story  of S.A.I.L:

Success

Authenticity

Innovation

Love

“All of us are learning how to SAIL our ship. We often don’t think about learning how to SAIL until we’re in a storm. Think about how much better we’d be at thriving during the storm if we spent more time learning how to SAIL before the storm. “

Deciding a name for this program took me a little time as I wanted something meaningful and different. A scroll through Pinterest produced the famous quote from Little Women and I scribbled  SAIL in my notebook. I then decided that SAIL needed to mean something and used it to plot out the curriculum course. S.A.I.L is a vessel to get to your desired destination and people go sailing to do the same. I took a break from the idea and visited The Beveled Edge for a shopping break. The first greeting card I saw in the pile was the one below:

Sail card

This is when I knew I’d found just what I was looking for in the name S.A.I.L. God is something else, ain’t he?

S.A.I.L includes:

  • 4 1.5/2 hour workshops
  • Opportunity to take StrengthsQuest
  • List of Relevant Resources
  • Relationship Building
  • Action Planning
  • Snacks/Wine/Champagne
  • Real Talk  about four key topics that continuously rear their head in the lives of women.
  • Oh, and it’s FREE!

Our first session is on Wednesday, February 3rd at Atmalogy in Nashville, TN.

19 women have already said YES! My goal was 15.

Can’t wait to keep you updated on this dream. This is just Leg 1 of the voyage. My hope is that S.A.I.L is able to leave its mark on the hearts, minds, and souls of the women in Nashville, TN and then one day, a city near you :).

If you’re in Nashville and interested in being a part of any or all S.A.I.L sessions, please send me an email at krystalnclark@gmail.com.

Invite Pic

 

 

 

Happenings & Hopes: January Edition

Happy New Year!

I spent NYE with new friends eating a delicious dinner at MOTO in The Gulch and drinking a great deal of Champs while having belly laugh inducing conversations and watching Nashville’s award winning fireworks from a supposedly ‘closed’ rooftop lounge. I’ll call it a win.

NYE

The next night I spent jotting in my ban.do Hopes + Dreams notebook about all that I want to happen in 2016. The list is long as I’m not known for brevity or lack of ambition.

Hopes and Dreams

The second item I wrote is that I will commit to writing at least 1 blog post per week. A daily blog is NOT my jam. Batch writing and scheduling posts is not my desired creation process. However, I can prioritize time during each week to crank out 1 meaningful post. I’ve drafted a list of topics for this month and the first week of February. I’ve chosen Thursday as my post day of the week. My hope is that this will lift the rock up off my shoulders that comes with people knowing I have a blog and then realizing that my posts have become few and far between. So, I’ll see you here on Thursday every week.  A new monthly series is Happenings & Hopes where I will detail what’s actually on my plate during the month and what I hope will happen during the month. Those are often two VERY different things.

So, welcome to January:

Happenings –Stuff that’s on the calendar– IT ALL HAPPENENED!!!

  • Junior League of Nashville ’16-’17 Board Retreat! 150 till I’m President Elect which means I’m a year closer to taking on the President role in 2017. Yikes!
  • Barre3 Challenge begins on January 4th! 4 studio classes, 1 online workout, and one yummy recipe-27 days of Barre3 immersion– completed 1 week…:(
  • Co-Facilitation of JLN Goal Setting Training Session
  • University of West Georgia Fraternity & Sorority Leadership Retreat- My first time being hired to create original curriculum and serve as Co-Lead Facilitator!
  • Beginning a Bible Study with lovely friends! We’re using Kelly Minter’s “What is Love?” I’m looking forward to this dive into the Word.
  • AJLI Winter Leadership Retreat in Austin, TX! Can’t wait to meet my President Elect-Elect Sisters!
  • My brothers’ birthday and he’s starting the MBA program at my alma mater, William & Mary!
  • Nashville Emerging Leaders Breakfast
  • College Panhellenic/Interfraternity Council Academy where I’ve been invited to facilitate an original session on Motivation and give an IFC Academy Talk!
  • I’m incredibly excited to begin my involvement with another fantastic training organization in Nashville that will allow me to further explore my budding interest in local politics. More details to come!
  • Oh, and I have a full-time job! We’re launching an new spring program and have some moves to make with campus partners. We’re also reapplying for our TEDxVanderbiltUniversity license and reimagining some of our existing programs.

I have NOTHING to do this month.

Hopes — Stuff that’s in my head and heart but if I’m not careful won’t make it’s way onto the Priority List

  • Purchase new personal business cards
  • Published blog post on a site I love dearly–Checking in on this piece
  • Holiday Thank You Cards
  • Eat out once per day and not three –> grocery shop–I lost count of the days and by the amount of receipts in my wallet from Panera, I’m not sure this worked out perfectly. I will say that I cooked more than usual this month which is a bit nuts considering that I was out of town 12 days.
  • Plan 2 friend moments
  • Engage in Sunday outfit planning for the week–whatever was hanging around once I finished packing was up for grabs
  • Finish at least 1 incomplete or untouched book already on my bookshelf–Nope!
  • Write a plan to tackle a piece of debt
  • Finish Season 1 and start Season 2 of Homeland
  • Begin planning 33rd Birthday trip for April
  • Finish developing the first and second session of S.A.I.L
  • Leave at least 1 blank night a week
  • Be in bed by midnight
  • Buy less stuff (Kate Spade bag w/gift card, mani/pedi/wax, Tom Ford Lipstick, Le Pens, Champagne, Hat, Wallet, Planner)
  • Marie Kondo my closet –Purses=Check!, Shoes= Check! Hats=Check!
  • To reach out to people when I think about them and not just shrug off the urge.-Ick! Yes, there were times when I did so and other times during which I put it on the backburner and never moved it back to the front of my mind.
  • To really use all that I learned during our mid-year reviews to be a better Director of my office and supervisor of my team.–uh, sure. Gosh, I have a staff member that’s decided to take advantage of another great opportunity and I think we had a great conversation about this change.
  • Pray for an open heart and mind when it comes to this season of my life. Pray that the Lord will give me the strength to embrace it and not let it lead me to lose my faith or hope in His promises. To constantly seek to be intentionally full of light, love, and laughter.– I really did the best I could with what I have. I didn’t dwell too much on my singleness this month, probably because I was running like a madwoman on the hamster wheel of life, and this also why I continue to run. I did have someone tell me that they just can’t ever see me being angry –gosh, I’ve got them fooled!
Some additional January Wins:
  • Announced as a Fellow for New Leaders’ Council
  • Solidified an opportunity to contribute a piece to an upcoming book for college students
  • Successfully designed and co-facilitated my first for hire retreat curriculum for the University of West Georgia
  • Met an incredible group of PE and PEE at AJLI Winter Leadership Conference in Austin, TX
  • Nominated for a Nashville Emerging Leader Award
  • A beautiful surprise shoutout for being a Panhellenic woman and  the first African American President of the Junior League of Nashville at CPC Academy
  • Nailed down 2 additional speaking/facilitation gigs for 2016

Can’t wait to let y’all know how all this went down or didn’t go down in February.

This may seem like A  LOT to some folks, but y’all, I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that He puts on my plate. Everything that I’m doing means something to me and is helping me be more of who I already am in this world–because that’s all I want–to be as ME as I can possibly be in this world without any apprehension.

These posts also serve as an accountability tool. You’ve unknowingly signed up to be my accountability partners. Thanks y’all, you’re so good to me. Breaking things up into monthly patterns will help me work towards the bigger picture without being too overwhelmed.

Now, I’m going to carve out time to put my Hopes on my calendar along with my Happenings.

What about you? What are your Happenings & Hopes for this month?

Can’t wait to see y’all each Thursday!

Krystal “Fighters Gotta Fight” Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best and Hardest Gift from God

This picture is the aftermath of 1.5 hours on stage at Delta Zeta’s Norma Minch Andrisek Leadership Conference. I spoke on “Building Resilience” with over 400 sorority women who served as onlookers, learners, participants, and co-educators as we talked about the hard process of “bouncing back” and what it means to “stretch” and not “break”. As Brene Brown and Oprah spewed their wisdom on vulnerability being the cornerstone of confidence the necessity of “daring greatly” and the freedom that comes with brushing your critics off your shoulder. Whew!

aftermath

I literally float on a cloud when I’m giving a talk and then I have to work my way back to earth. Eventually I crash which is the view you see above and YES, I’m watching a 30 For 30 because these documentaries are my “Lifetime Movie”. The U: Part 1 & 2 give me life. As someone who is intrigued by topics like vulnerability, resiliency, and self-authorship–I find the tales of athletes to be riveting. Our athletes are our superheroes and to see all that they go through whether inflicted by self or others is always inspiring.

As I was deflating in this lovely hotel room while wrapped up in comfy hotel bedding thinking about this opportunity that God has given me to do what I feel I’ve been called to do, I got one of those pangs–you know, one of those single woman pangs. That feeling that’s been happening more and more lately that yes, I have a charmed life BUT I’m still missing elements that I thought by 32 would be present. At least, I thought I’d have a partner –perhaps not children, but a partner for certain, someone to share what’s happening in my life. Someone who would be excited for me, proud of me, and would be waiting for me when I got off the plane or would be there with me, in the moment, smiling at me from the audience.

Those pangs HURT. My appendix swelling was pretty painful and single woman pangs are a close second. Both are debilitating.

Wholeheartedly

Luckily, I stashed my Wholeheartedly Devotional in my travel bag before I departed for O-H-I-O. Because God is who He is the next devotional in the serious is called “receive”.

“Only those people who have been given the gift of staying single can accept this teaching. Some people are unable to marry because of birth defects or because of what someone has done to their bodies. Others stay single for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who can accept this teaching should do so.” Matthew 19:11-12

The words jumped off the page and into my heart and soul. Natalie Matrejean, the author of Wholeheartedly expressed what she learned about being single from this scripture and I desperately needed to hear and understand this Word.

1. Singleness is a gift (let’s hope there’s a gift receipt). Some people are gifted with singleness. If you are one of those people He will help you.

2. Singleness is hard (YEP!). Even some who are called will not be able to accept it.

3. Singleness is better for the kingdom. Jesus is saying to receive and accept singleness  for His Kingdom’s sake if you have been called to it.

In that moment, in the hotel room and in many other moments throughout my life, I have to remember and accept these three things.

My singleness is a GIFT. For some reason He is calling me to it for a season or perhaps for the rest of my life. I often realize that the freedom that comes with being single is a huge gift from God. I have loads of FREEDOM to live and serve. I am blessed to know and understand that I have a God who helps me navigate my solo mission.

It is HARD. A lot of the time it’s hard because of what’s going on around me. It seems that everyone is married and having tons of babies. The world has found its other half and I’m that sock that lost its match in the dryer. It’s also hard because there are times when I just want someone to hug me. I want a partner in life because most things are better when you have a buddy. You know, a built in human support system. I’ve been in love and it feels great. I need some serotonin and oxytocin, you know? It’s hard to play against a team when you’re all alone.

It is BETTER? I don’t know. On a daily basis, my answer is a big resounding, NO!  Sometimes I feel it is  when I see people I love going through incredibly dramatic relationship matters. Divorce, infidelity, unhappy marriages, and difficult conversations. I don’t want those headaches. However, if its BETTER for God then I guess it is BETTER. If he sees fit to use me in a special way to serve Him then perhaps for me, at this time, or until I leave this earth, it is BETTER for me to be single.

In order to gain some peace during this current season of my life, I have to “receive” this message. I have to believe that it is a Gift, it is Hard, and it is Better. If this is my calling, and I receive it, then I shall be blessed by it.

It was also a wake up call to me that because I am ABLE to do more for His kingdom because I’m not occupied by a spouse or any dependents, that I need to do so and if I’m honest with you, I’m not doing enough for God at this moment in my life.

In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. 1 Cor. 7:34-35

Delving into this teacher helped the pangs subside and I was able to open myself back up to the happiness that was happening all around me. As I know but as I have to keep reminding myself at every turn, that God is in control. His plan, His timing, my obedience.

My life is too blessed and I’m doing what I said I wanted to do in life. I’m human and I have those valley moments and like I told the sorority women in the audience, we’ve all got to work our way back up from those black holes in our life. My resiliency is a factor of my faith and when I’m feeling those single woman pangs, God is the best at giving me the Word I need to get back to good. My joy comes from the Lord and if this is what He sees fit for me at this point in my life then I can’t let my singleness ruin all of the blessings he’s bestowed upon me. Because what I now understand is that it is too a blessing. Exhale.

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

2014 in review–Thanks for reading!

Nice to get an annual blog report. This helps me set goals for 2015. I know that I need to be consistent and instead of pushing myself to post 5-7 days a week, I’m committing  to posting on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Those are the days that make the most sense to me and are the most doable. I’ve also pledged to post my entries on my personal Facebook page and not just my PeculiarPearl Facebook page as this will provide me with more exposure. I’ve been a bit fearful of doing this BUT I gotta push through that fear and hit SHARE. My goal is to be able to utilize my blog as an arm of my speaking/facilitation career that I have also pledged to build this year and it serves as an alternate form of providing knowledge through my role as a leadership educator. I share my full self and I promise that when I post, I’m being my most authentic self. You are getting the stories that occur at the intersection of all my identities. This blog has been a part of my life since 2011 and it has helped me make meaning of my life experiences. It is the most effective form of reflection that I have in my life. Thank you to those who have taken the time to read, like, comment, and share. I hope you’re just as excited about PeculiarPearl in 2015 as I am as I type this post.

Thanks for reading!

Krystal aka Peculiar Pearl

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“What was I like as a child?”

Have you ever asked your family what you were like as a child?

The first time I asked my mother this question she said 1 word…

LOUD!

Thanks Mom, you’re a gem.

When I approached her again along with my other relatives they said things like…
talkative
you taught school every day to your stuffed animals –even on Saturday and Sunday
you loved school—even when there was a flood, we just had to get you to school or you’d cry like a crazy person
you loved all people no matter who they were or their station in life
smart. we don’t know where you got that from but you’ve always been really smart
you read ALL the time. We’d find books hidden in all of your special nooks so that you could retrieve them upon your return
if we ever needed anyone to do a speaking part in church, you were our first choice because the seniors could always hear you…you were this happy, smiling, articulate, loud little person

At the ripe old age of 28, I had this flash of panic that I wasn’t headed in the right direction. What was I doing with my life? Am I using my full capacity?
Has this ever happened to you?
If so, if you’re lost, I encourage you to look BACK and I promise you that it can give you the information you need to move forward.

When I collected all of the responses from those that knew me prior to the age of 10 I had the realization that my strengths, those gifts that God gave to me over 30 years ago are the same today as they were back then.

My passions, those things that call me out of bed in the morning are those things that I loved doing as a child.
My happy place as a child is still my happy place at 31.
Teaching, speaking, having an audience, educating those around me and helping them to be their best self.

God knows my story because he wrote it from beginning to end and he was superb at foreshadowing.

When I took the time to look BACK I can see all of the clues that led me to where I am today. It is no coincidence that I do what I do.

My challenge to you is that the next time you’re lost on your professional path. Reach out to those who knew you before you were 10 and ask that simple but critical question,

“What was I like as a child?”

The above is a small talk I shared at “Faithful to Speak” at Fellowship Bible Church in Brentwood, TN. We had around 15 minutes to write it, one rehearsal and a brief moment of peer feedback in small groups. I was then one of three to perform on stage while being videotaped. I enjoyed the process and am pretty okay with the outcome. My biggest critical feedback was that I need to highlight a story that demonstrates my current professional role and how that fits in with what I discovered about myself through the looking back process. I can do that.